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Pro-life ecumenism takes root in Oakland, Calif.
by Michele Jurich

.- The Rev. Walter Hoye is preparing for his fifth annual Standing Up 4Life Walk in Oakland, Calif. The rally will begin at noon Jan. 20 in front of Oakland City Hall at 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

“The speakers want to come to Oakland,” said the Rev. Hoye, who thanked West Coast Walk for Life founders Eva Muntean and Dolores Meehan for their assistance.

“Eva and Dolores work together to get communities of color involved,” he said.

The focus of the Oakland event is the impact of abortion on the minority community. The Rev. Hoye is one of the nation’s leaders in framing the abortion debate as a matter of genocide.

Speakers at the rally, who will also attend a benefit dinner later that day, include Lori Hoye, the Rev. Hoye’s wife and partner in the Issues4Life Foundation.

“She is a product of rape,” the Rev. Hoye said. “It’s not the conversation that comes up normally. She will get a chance to talk about what her life has been like.”

Also scheduled to speak are the Rev. Clenard Childress, senior pastor of the New Calvary Baptist Church in New Jersey and founder of BlackGenocide.org; Dr. Vansen Wong, an obstetrician and gynecologist who will talk about his experiences as a former abortion provider; and Abby Brannan Johnson, author of “Unplanned,” her story of her move from Planned Parenthood employee to pro-life advocate.

Johnson spoke at last year’s Walk for Life in San Francisco.

“She’ll rally and walk with us and be with us at the cathedral,” Hoye said.

The hour-long rally in the Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland will be followed by a walk down Broadway to Eighth Street, and back up Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and across 14th Street back to the Frank Ogawa Plaza.

After the walk, leaders and speakers customarily gather for discussion. This year, they will gather at 4 p.m. at the parish hall at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland for conversation and dinner.

“This is the first time as a benefit,” said John Watkins, who coordinates social justice programs at the Diocese of Oakland. Space will be available for about 120 to attend the conversation and dinner. Reservations are required. Tickets are available at $30 for general admission, $15 for students.

“We’re happy to get some young people to come,” said the Rev. Hoye. “They ask wonderful questions.”

The smaller venue will offer the opportunity for the public to talk with the speakers and leaders, the Rev. Hoye said.

“The people will get a chance to talk and ask questions of the rally speakers,” he said. “They’ll be available to talk.”

Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Diocese of Oakland’s Rachel’s Vineyard Ministry and the Issues4Life Foundation, based in Union City, Calif.

An ecumenical prayer service will follow from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. The public is invited to attend the service. The Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone, bishop of Oakland, and the Most Rev. Jaime Soto, bishop of Sacramento, Calif. will be among the speakers.

Also expected are Bishop Robert Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church, and Bishop R.D. Garrison Jr. of Judah the Gathering Place of Ministry Unto Jesus, both of Oakland.

“This is beautiful,” said the Rev. Hoye. “Every year we alternate venues to integrate the denominations. Bishop Vigneron (former bishop of Oakland) started this in 2008. Bishop Cordileone sees the vision of bringing all God’s people together.”

Prayers will reflect scriptural passages about life, Hoye said. The heart of the service is the offering of roses.

“Those who have suffered loss get the opportunity to bring up a rose, to represent their child at the altar,” the Rev. Hoye said.

In previous years, it has been a highly emotional moment.

“When we got to the rose ceremony, we are all sharing the same pain. Everybody cried.”

Posted with permission from The Catholic Voice, newspaper for the Diocese of Oakland, Calif.


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